In Plato’s Apology (29a-b), Socrates agues that he does not fear death; indeed, to fear death is a sign of ignorance. It is to claim to know what one in fact does not know (Ap. 29 a-b). Perhaps, Socrates suggests, death is not a great evil after all, but “the greatest of all goods.” At the end of the dialogue, after the judges have voted on the final verdict and Socrates has received the death penalty, the (...) philosopher considers two common views of death: that death is a long dreamless sleep and that death is a journey to another place - Hades. According to Socrates, either of these views of death would be acceptable to him; the one, because he would receive a wonderful rest with no dreams to disturb him; the other, because he would be able to talk philosophy with those who had gone before with impunity. In this paper, I will examine Socrates’ view of death, and I will argue that, according to Socrates, there could be a third perspective on death that will not only make him truly immortal in a certain way, but will also immortalize the practice of Socratic philosophy. Hence, Socrates embraces his sentence because dying at the right time and dying in the right way provides him the possibility of a good death. <br><br>. (shrink)
In this article I defend innocuousism– a weak form of Epicureanism about the putative badness of death. I argue that if we assume both mental statism about wellbeing and that death is an experiential blank, it follows that death is not bad for the one who dies. I defend innocuousism against the deprivation account of the badness of death. I argue that something is extrinsically bad if and only if it leads to states that are intrinsically (...) bad. On my view, sometimes dying may be less good than living, but it is never bad to die. (shrink)
The words quoted above distill the common secular conception of death. If we decline the traditional religious reassurances of an afterlife, or their fuzzy new age equivalents, and instead take the hard-boiled and thoroughly modern materialist view of death, then we likely end up with Gonzalez-Cruzzi. Rejecting visions of reunions with loved ones or of crossing over into the light, we anticipate the opposite: darkness, silence, an engulfing emptiness. But we would be wrong.
Death and Philosophy presents a wide ranging and fascinating variety of different philosophical, aesthetic and literary perspectives on death. Death raises key questions such as whether life has meaning of life in the face of death, what the meaning of "life after death" might be and whether death is part of a narrative that can be retold in different ways, and considers the various types of death, such as brain death, that challenge (...) mind-body dualism. The essays also include explorations of Chinese, Japanese and Tibetan perspectives on death and why death in some cultures, such as in Mexico's day of the dead, is celebrated. (shrink)
This paper argues that Immanuel Kant’s practical philosophy contains a coherent, albeit implicit, defense of the legitimacy of capital punishment, one that refutes the most important objections leveled against it. I first show that Kant is consistent in his application of the ius talionis. I then explain how Kant can respond to the claim that death penalty violates the inviolable right to life. To address the most significant objection – the claim that execution violates human dignity – I argue (...) that motives of honor, as Kant conceives it, require a rational person to will her own execution, were she to commit murder. (shrink)
Cryonic suspension is a relatively new technology that offers those who can afford it the chance to be 'frozen' for future revival when they reach the ends of their lives. This paper will examine the ethical status of this technology and whether its use can be justified. Among the arguments against using this technology are: it is 'against nature', and would change the very concept of death; no friends or family of the 'freezee' will be left alive when he (...) is revived; the considerable expense involved for the freezee and the future society that will revive him; the environmental cost of maintaining suspension; those who wish to use cryonics might not live life to the full because they would economize in order to afford suspension; and cryonics could lead to premature euthanasia in order to maximize chances of success. Furthermore, science might not advance enough to ever permit revival, and reanimation might not take place due to socio-political or catastrophic reasons. Arguments advanced by proponents of cryonics include: the potential benefit to society; the ability to cheat death for at least a few more years; the prospect of immortality if revival is successful; and all the associated benefits that delaying or avoiding dying would bring. It emerges that it might be imprudent not to use the technology, given the relatively minor expense involved and the potential payoff. An adapted and more persuasive version of Pascal's Wager is presented and offered as a conclusive argument in favour of utilizing cryonic suspension. (shrink)
Introduction: "meaning in life and death : our stories" -- John Martin Fischer and Anthony B rueckner, "Why is death bad?", Philosophical studies, vol. 50, no. 2 (September 1986) -- "Death, badness, and the impossibility of experience," Journal of ethics -- John Martin Fischer and Daniel Speak, "Death and the psychological conception of personal identity," Midwest studies in philosophy, vol. 24 -- "Earlier birth and later death : symmetry through thick and thin," Richard Feldman, Kris (...) McDaniel, Jason R. Raibley, eds., The good, the right, life and death (Aldershot : Ashgate Publishing, 2006) -- "Why immortality is not so bad," International journal of philosophical studies, vol. 2, no. 2 (September 1994) -- John Martin Fischer and Ruth Curl, "Philosophical models of immortality in science fiction," in George Slusser et. al., eds., Immortal engines : life extension and immortality in science fiction and fantasy (Athens, Ga. : University of Georgia Press, 1996) -- "Epicureanism about death and immortality," Journal of ethics, vol. 10, no. 4 -- "Stories," Midwest studies in philosophy, vol. 20 -- "Free will, death, and immortality : the role of narrative," Philosophical papers (Special issue : meaning in life) volume 34, number 3, November 2005 -- "Stories and the meaning of life," revised and expanded version of "A reply to Pereboom, Zimmerman, and Smith," part of a book symposium on John Martin Fischer, my way : essays on moral responsibility, philosophical books, vol. 47, no. 3. (shrink)
Despite widespread support for the claim that death can harm the one who dies, debate continues over how to rescue this harm thesis (HT) from Epicurus’s challenge. Disagreements focus on two of the three issues that any defense of HT must resolve: the subject of death’s harm and the timing of its injury. About the nature of death’s harm, however, a consensus has emerged around the view that death harms a subject (when it does) by depriving (...) her of the goods life would’ve afforded had she continued living. This deprivation view of death’s harm (DV) derives some of its credibility from the general deprivation theory of which it is an instance: mortal harm is subject to the same kind of analysis plausibly given of other non-mortal harms. Furthermore, note that the weak formulation of HT—asserting only that death can inflict harm, not that it always or necessarily does—accommodates the intuition that instances of rational suicide and justifiable euthanasia present cases in which death fails to harm. DV is equipped to explain how in these cases the harms involved in continued existence outweigh the goods of which death deprives the subject. I agree that suicide can be rational and that euthanasia can be justifiable. Likewise I accept both HT and DV as far as they go. But they do not go far enough. Specifically, I argue here that death harms even those who die as a result of rational suicide or justifiable euthanasia; that death’s harm is neither undifferentiated nor wholly contingent, but multifaceted and partly necessary; that the necessary part of death’s harm is distinctive, inflicting a peculiar restriction on the autonomy of one who dies; and, regarding the timing and subject issues, that this restriction harm is inflicted on the antemortem subject prior to her death. (shrink)
This study investigated what information about brain death was available from Google searches for five major religions. A substantial body of supporting research examining online behaviors shows that information seekers use Google as their preferred search engine and usually limit their search to entries on the first page. For each of the five religions in this study, Google listings reveal ethical controversy about organ donation in the context of brain death. These results suggest that family members who go (...) online to find information about organ donation in the context of brain death would find information about ethical controversy in the first page of Google listings. Organ procurement agencies claim that all major world religions approve of organ donation and do not address the ethical controversy about organ donation in the context of brain death that is readily available online. (shrink)
Fundamental principles : the nature of the dispute -- Types of euthanasia -- Psychiatric assisted suicide -- Neonates -- Incompetent adults -- Human life is sacred -- The slippery slope -- Medical views -- Four methods of easing death and their effect on doctors -- Looking further ahead.
In this paper I discuss some of Martha Nussbaum’s defenses of Epicurean views about death and immortality. Here I seek to defend the commonsense view that death can be a bad thing for an individual against the Epicurean; I also defend the claim that immortality might conceivably be a good thing. In the development of my analysis, I make certain connections between the literatures on free will and death. The intersection of these two literatures can be illuminated (...) by reference to my notion of a Dialectical Stalemate. (shrink)
In this paper I suggest that near-death experiences (NDEs) provide a rational basis for belief in life after death. My argument is a simple one and is modeled on the argument from religious experience for the existence of God. But unlike the proponents of the argument from religious experience, I stop short of claiming that NDEs prove the existence of life after death. Like the argument from religious experience, however, my argument turns on whether or not there (...) is good reason to believe that NDEs are authentic or veridical. I argue that there is good reason to believe that NDEs are veridical and that therefore it is reasonable to believe in the existence of what they seem to be experiences of, namely, a continued state of consciousness after the death of the body. I will then offer some comments on the philosophical import of NDEs, as well as reflections on the current state of contemporary philosophy in light of the neglect of this phenomenon. (shrink)
Detailed exposition of the nine layers of signification of human mortality according to Emmanuel Levinas's phenomenological and ethical account of the meaning and role of death for the embodied human subject and its relations to other persons. Critical contrast to Martin Heidegger's alternative and hitherto more influential phenomenological-ontological conception, elaborated in "Being and Time" (1927), of mortality as Dasein's anxious and revelatory being-toward-death.
Thinking about death -- Dualism vs. physicalism -- Arguments for the existence of the soul -- Descartes' argument -- Plato on the immortality of the soul -- Personal identity -- Choosing between the theories -- The nature of death -- Two surprising claims about death -- The badness of death -- Immortality -- The value of life -- Other aspects of death -- Living in the face of death -- Suicide -- Conclusion: an invitation.
Epicurus argued that death can be neither good nor bad because it involves neither pleasure nor pain. This paper focuses on the deprivation account as a response to this Hedonist Argument. Proponents of the deprivation account hold that Epicurus’s argument fails even if death involves no painful or pleasurable experiences and even if the hedonist ethical system, which holds that pleasure and pain are all that matter ethically, is accepted. I discuss four objections that have been raised against (...) the deprivation account and argue that this response to Epicurus’s argument is successful once it has been sufficiently clarified. (shrink)
Some have argued (following Epicurus) that death cannot be a bad thing for an individual who dies. They contend that nothing can be a bad for an individual unless the individual is able to experience it as bad. I argue against this Epicurean view, offering examples of things that an individual cannot experience as bad but are nevertheless bad for the individual. Further, I argue that death is relevantly similar.
What is death? Do people survive death? What do we mean when we say that someone is "dying"? Presenting a clear and engaging discussion of the classic philosophical questions surrounding death, this book studies the great metaphysical and moral problems of death. In the first part, Feldman shows that a definition of life is necessary before death can be defined. After exploring several of the most plausible accounts of the nature of life and demonstrating their (...) failure, he goes on to propose his own conceptual scheme for death and related concepts. In the second part, Feldman turns to ethical and value-theoretical questions about death. Addressing the ancient Epicurean ethical problem about the evil of death, he argues that death can be a great evil for those who die, even if they do not exist after death, because it may deprive them of the goods they would have enjoyed if they had continued to live. Confrontations with the Reaper concludes with a novel consequentialist theory about the morality of killing, applying it to such thorny practical issues as abortion, suicide, and euthanasia. (shrink)
The Islamic philosophical, mystical, and theological sub-traditions have each made characteristic assumptions about the human person, including an incorporation of substance dualism in distinctive manners. Advances in the brain sciences of the last half century, which include a widespread acceptance of death as the end of essential brain function, require the abandonment of dualistic notions of the human person that assert an immaterial and incorporeal soul separate from a body. In this article, I trace classical Islamic notions of (...) class='Hi'>death and the soul, the modern definition of death as "brain death," and some contemporary Islamic responses to this definition. I argue that a completely naturalistic account of human personhood in the Islamic tradition is the best and most viable alternative for the future. This corporeal monistic account of Muslim personhood as embodied consciousness incorporates the insights of pre-modern Muslim thinkers yet rehabilitates their characteristic mistakes and thus has the advantages of neuroscientific validity and modern relevance in trans-cultural ethical discourse; it also helps to alleviate organ shortages in countries with majority Muslim populations, a serious ethical impasse of recent years. (shrink)
The Epicurean view is that there is nothing bad about death, and we are wrong to loathe it. This paper distinguishes several different such views, and shows that while some of them really would undermine our loathing of death, others would not. It then argues that any version that did so could be at best vacuously true: If there is nothing bad about death, that can only be because there is nothing bad about anything.
Death concept, death definition, death criterion and deathtest pluralism has been described by some as a problematic approach. Others have claimed it to be a promising way forward within modern pluralistic societies. This article describes the New Jersey Death Definition Law and the Japanese Transplantation Law. Both of these laws allow for more than one death concept within a single legal system. The article discusses a philosophical basis for these laws starting from (...) John Rawls' understanding of comprehensive doctrines, reasonable pluralism and overlapping consensus. It argues for the view that a certain legal pluralism in areas of disputed metaphysical, philosophical and/or religious questions should be allowed, as long as the disputed questions concern the individual and the resulting policy, law or acts based on the policy/law, do not harm the lives of other individuals to an intolerable extent. However, while this death concept, death definition, death criterion and deathtest pluralism solves some problems, it creates others. (shrink)
In previous work we have defended the deprivation account of death’s badness against worries stemming from the Lucretian point that prenatal and posthumous nonexistence are deprivations of the same sort. In a recent article in this journal, Fred Feldman has offered an insightful critique of our Parfitian strategy for defending the deprivation account of death’s badness. Here we adjust, clarify, and defend our strategy for reply to Lucretian worries on behalf of the deprivation account.
This book contributes to current bioethical debates by providing a critical analysis of the philosophy of human death. Bernard N. Schumacher discusses contemporary philosophical perspectives on death, creating a dialogue between phenomenology, existentialism, and analytic philosophy. He also examines the ancient philosophies that have shaped our current ideas about death. His analysis focuses on three fundamental problems: (1) the definition of human death, (2) the knowledge of mortality and of human death as such, and (3) (...) the question of whether death is "nothing" to us or, on the contrary, whether it can be regarded as an absolute or relative evil. Drawing on scholarship published in four languages and from three distinct currents of thought, this volume represents a comprehensive and systematic study of the philosophy of death, one that provides a provocative basis for discussions of the bioethics of human mortality. (shrink)
I compare and assess two significant and opposing approaches to the self with respect to what they have to say about death: the anti-narrativist, as articulated by Galen Strawson, and the narrativist, as pieced together from a variety of accounts. Neither party fares particularly well on the matter of death. Both are unable to point towards a view of death that is clearly consistent with their views on the self. In the narrativist’s case this inconsistency is perhaps (...) not as explicit but is in the end more entrenched. (shrink)
It is commonly asserted that “death is not a welfare issue” and this has been reflected in welfare legislation and policy in many countries. However, this creates a conflict for many who consider animal welfare to be an appropriate basis for decision-making in animal ethics but also consider that an animal’s death is ethically significant. To reconcile these viewpoints, this paper attempts to formulate an account of death as a welfare issue. Welfare issues are issues that refer (...) to evaluations concerning an animal’s interests. This includes evaluations that refer only to comparisons between the presence and absence of states, including positive states. This means that an animal’s death may be a welfare issue insofar as it leads to the exclusion of relevant positive states. This allows us to deny that death is necessarily not a welfare issue. (shrink)
When I was fifteen, I was having serious doubts about the existence of a supernatural entity benevolently looking over me, and—perhaps even more disturbingly—about the possibility of an afterlife in which I would again see my friends and relatives and exist happily ever after. It was at that point that I started reading the writings of Bertrand Russell,1,2 one of the most controversial philosophers and political activists of the Twentieth century.
In a world of rapid technological advances, the moral issues raised by life and death choices in healthcare remain obscure. Life and Death in Healthcare Ethics provides a concise, thoughtful and extremely accessible guide to these moral issues. Helen Watt examines, using real-life cases, the range of choices taken by healthcare professionals, patients and clients which lead to the shortening of life. The topics looked at include: euthanasia and withdrawal of treatment; the persistent vegetative state; abortion; IVF and (...) cloning; and life-saving treatment of pregnant women. (shrink)
The purpose of this paper is to establish a proper context for reading Jacques Derrida's The Gift of Death, which, I contend, can only be understood fully against the backdrop of "Violence and Metaphysics." The later work cannot be fully understood unless the reader appreciates the fact that Derrida returns to "a certain Abraham" not only in the name of Kierkegaard but also in the name of Levinas himself. The hypothesis of the reading that follows therefore would be that (...) Derrida writes The Gift of Death not as an attempt to re-present Kierkegaard's Abraham either rightly or wrongly but as an effort to do with Kierkegaard's Abraham what is possible with his thought in a broadly Levinasian/Derridean framework. That the reading he provides of the Abraham story would not be recognizable to Kierkegaard is not the principal point of Derrida's effort; his aim is to demonstrate that Levinas should not have been so hasty to dismiss Kierkegaard but could have recovered his interpretation of Abraham for purposes that Derrida and Levinas both share. (shrink)
Very Little ... Almost Nothing puts the question of the meaning of life back at the center of intellectual debate. Its central concern is how we can find a meaning to human finitude without recourse to anything that transcends that finitude. A profound but secular meditation on the theme of death, Critchley traces the idea of nihilism through Blanchot, Levinas, Jena Romanticism and Cavell, culminating in a reading of Beckett, in many ways the hero of the book. For this (...) Second Edition, Simon Critchley has added a revealing and extended new preface, and a new chapter on Wallace Stevens which reflects on the idea of poetry as philosophy. (shrink)
The ancient philosophical school of Epicureanism tried to argue that death is "nothing to us." Were they right? James Warren provides a comprehensive study and articulation of the interlocking arguments against the fear of death found not only in the writings of Epicurus himself, but also in Lucretius' poem De rerum natura and in Philodemus' work De morte. These arguments are central to the Epicurean project of providing ataraxia (freedom from anxiety) and therefore central to an understanding of (...) Epicureanism as a whole. They also offer significant resources for modern discussions of the value of death--one which stands at the intersection of metaphysics and ethics. If death is the end of the subject, and the subject can not be benefited nor harmed after death, is it reasonable nevertheless to fear the ceasing-to-be? If the Epicureans are not right to claim that the dead can neither be benefited nor harmed, what alternative models might be offered for understanding the harm done by death and do these alternatives suffer from any further difficulties? The discussion involves consideration of both ethical and metaphysical topics since it requires analysis not only of the nature of a good life but also the nature of personal identity and time. A number of modern philosophers have offered criticisms or defences of the Epicureans' views. Warren explores and evaluates these in the light of a systematic and detailed study of the precise form and intention of the Epicureans' original arguments. Warren argues that the Epicureans also were interested in showing that mortality is not to be regretted and that premature death is not to be feared. Their arguments for these conclusions are to be found in their positive conception of the nature of a good and complete life, which divorce the completeness of a life as far as possible from considerations of its duration. Later chapters investigate the nature of a life lived without the fear of death and pose serious problems for the Epicureans being able to allow any concern for the post mortem future and being able to offer a positive reason for prolonging a life which is already complete in their terms. (shrink)
The President's Council on Bioethics has recently released a report supportive of the continued use of brain death as a criterion for human death. The Council's conclusions were based on a conception of life that stressed external work as the fundamental marker of organismic life. With respect to human life, it is spontaneous respiration in particular that indicates an ability to interact with the external environment, and so indicates the presence of life. Conversely, irreversible apnoea marks an inability (...) to carry out the necessary work of life, an inability which the Council considers an indicator of death. This conception has been conceived to circumvent criticisms of the previous model of loss of somatic integration, a model the Council admits that, in the presence of evidence of continuing functional integration in brain dead patients, was looking less than convincing. Nevertheless, by focusing on external work and ignoring the more essential work of integrative unity, the Council's conception of the nature of life is untenable, and of no assistance in supporting a relation of equivalence between the concepts of brain death and death. Consequently, the Council's conclusions do little to advance the definition of death debate, a potentially intractable debate that may necessitate the investigation of alternate ethical justifications for organ harvesting. (shrink)
A primary argument against the badness of death (known as the Symmetry Argument) appeals to an alleged symmetry between prenatal and posthumous nonexistence. The Symmetry Argument has posed a serious threat to those who hold that death is bad because it deprives us of life’s goods that would have been available had we died later. Anthony Brueckner and John Martin Fischer develop an influential strategy to cope with the Symmetry Argument. In their attempt to break the symmetry, they (...) claim that due to our preference of future experiential goods over past ones, posthumous nonexistence is bad for us, whereas prenatal nonexistence is not. Granting their presumption about our preference, however, it is questionable that prenatal nonexistence is not bad. This consideration does not necessarily indicate their defeat against the Symmetry Argument. I present a better response to the Symmetry Argument: the symmetry is broken, not because posthumous nonexistence is bad while prenatal nonexistence is not, but because (regardless as to whether prenatal nonexistence is bad) posthumous nonexistence is even worse. (shrink)
As of 2009, the number of donors in Japan is the lowest among developed countries. On July 13, 2009, Japan's Organ Transplant Law was revised for the first time in 12 years. The revised and old laws differ greatly on four primary points: the definition of death, age requirements for donors, requirements for brain-death determination and organ extraction, and the appropriateness of priority transplants for relatives.In the four months of deliberations in the National Diet before the new law (...) was established, various arguments regarding brain death and organ transplantation were offered. An amazing variety of opinions continue to be offered, even after more than 40 years have elapsed since the first heart organ transplant in Japan. Some are of the opinion that with the passage of the revised law, Japan will finally become capable of performing transplants according to global standards. Contrarily, there are assertions that organ transplants from brain-dead donors are unacceptable because they result in organs being taken from living human beings.Considering the current conditions, we will organize and introduce the arguments for and against organ transplants from brain-dead donors in contemporary Japan. Subsequently, we will discuss the primary arguments against organ transplants from brain-dead donors from the perspective of contemporary Japanese views on life and death. After introducing the recent view that brain death should not be regarded as equivalent to the death of a human being, we would like to probe the deeply-rooted views on life and death upon which it is based. (shrink)
The term futility has been widely used in medical ethics and clinical medicine for more than twenty years now. At first glance it appears to offer a clear-cut categorical characterisation of medical treatments at the end of life, and an apparently objective way of making decisions that are seen to be emotionally painful for those close to the patient, and ethically, and also potentially legally hazardous for clinicians. It also appears to deal with causation, because omission of a futile treatment (...) cannot surely be a cause of death. The problem is that futility can be argued to be a false friend , in that it gives an appearance of representing a reliable conceptual basis, in ethics, for limitation of medical treatment—usually in the context of dying—without actually doing so. In fact, the concept of futility is a conflation of clinical judgement about outcomes of treatment and the quality or even value of life, and has really failed to contribute much to the advancement of decision-making and hence care at the end-of-life. It also has the capacity to medicalise the personal space. Deliberations about the likely outcomes of medical treatment are necessary, and medical expertise is pivotal. However, futility is argued to have a better future in partnership with a broad social action agenda about the process of dying, such as that articulated in health promoting palliative care, as a basis for better death-ways in the 21st century (Kellehear 2005). Medicine needs to more honest and upfront about its limits, as death is, after all, the elephant in everybody's room. (shrink)
Machine generated contents note: Introduction 1 -- 1. Transcending Mortality: Plato's Philosophy and Augustine's Theology 10 -- 2. Transcending the Void: Sex and Death in Sartre and Beauvoir's Existentialism 39 -- 3. Eros, Thanatos and the Human .Self: Sigmund Freud 60 -- 4. Sex and Death in a Meaningless Universe: The Marquis de Sade 80 -- 5. Living in Accordance with Nature: Seneca 104 -- Conclusion Sex, Death, and the Meaningful Life 126.
D. Alan Shewmon has advanced a well-documented challenge to the widely accepted total brain death criterion for death of the human being. We show that Shewmon's argument against this criterion is unsound, though he does refute the standard argument for that criterion. We advance a distinct argument for the total brain death criterion and answer likely objections. Since human beings are rational animals – sentient organisms of a specific type – the loss of the radical capacity for (...) sentience (the capacity to sense or to develop the capacity to sense) involves a substantial change, the passing away of the human organism. In human beings total brain death involves the complete loss of the radical capacity for sentience, and so in human beings total brain death is death. (shrink)
American healthcare -- Bioterror and bioart -- State of emergency -- Licensed to torture -- Hunger strikes -- War -- Cancer -- Drug dealing -- Toxic tinkering -- Abortion -- Culture of death -- Patient safety -- Global health -- Statue of security -- Pandemic fear -- Bioidentifiers -- Genetic genocide.
Surveys in different countries (e.g. the UK, Belgium and The Netherlands) show a marked recent increase in the incidence of continuous deep sedation at the end of life (CDS). Several hypotheses can be formulated to explain the increasing performance of this practice. In this paper we focus on what we call the ‘natural death’ hypothesis, i.e. the hypothesis that acceptance of CDS has spread rapidly because death after CDS can be perceived as a ‘natural’ death by medical (...) practitioners, patients' relatives and patients.We attempt to show that the label ‘natural’ cannot be unproblematically applied to the nature of this end-of-life practice. We argue that the labeling of death following CDS as ‘natural’ death is related to a complex set of mechanisms which facilitate the use of this practice. However, our criticism does not preclude the view that CDS may be clinically and ethically justified in many cases. (shrink)
This article seeks to present for the first time a more systematic account of Edith Stein’s views on death and dying. First, I will argue that death does not necessarily lead us to an understanding of our earthly existence as aevum, that is, an experience of time between eternity and finite temporality. We always bear the mark of our finitude, including our finite temporality, even when we exist within the eternal mind of God. To claim otherwise, is to (...) make identical our eternity with God’s eternity, thereby undermining the traditional Scholastic argument, which Stein holds, that there is no real relation between the being (and, therefore, (a)temporality) of God and the being of human persons. Second, I will argue that Stein excludes the category of potentiality from her discussion of death as a relation between the fullness or actuality of being and nothingness. In fact, death is more a relation between possibility/potentiality and nothingness than a relation between actual fullness and nothingness. What Stein describes as fullness ought to be read as potential. (shrink)
From Odysseus' seduction by the song of the Sirens to Oscar Moore's 1991 novel A Matter of Life and Sex , whose protagonist courts death through sex and dies of AIDS, the frustrated relationship between death and desire has fixated the Western imagination. Philosophers have grappled with it and poets have told of its beauty and pain. In this strikingly original work, cultural critic Jonathan Dollimore once again demonstrates his remarkable ability to take on the complex and reveal (...) its relevance with eloquence and grace. Death, Desire and Loss in Western Culture is a rich testament to our ubiquitous preoccupation with the tangled web of death and desire. In these pages we find nuanced analysis that blends Plato with Shelley, Hölderlin with Foucault. Dollimore, a gifted thinker, is not content to summarize these texts from afar; instead, he weaves a thread through each to tell the magnificent story of the making of the modern individual. An immensely important book, Death, Desire and Loss in Western Culture is a challenge to the way we understand desire, sexuality, and the very notion of identity. (shrink)
This standard work in thanatology is updated with ten essays new to the second edition, and features a new introduction by Donnelly. The collection addresses certain basic issues inherent in a philosophy of death.
The main theme of the article is the tension between the obligation to preserve life, and the value of timely death. This tension is resolved by distinguishing between precipitating death, which is prohibited, and merely removing an impediment to it, which is permitted. In contemporary Jewish law, a distinction is made between therapy, which may be discontinued, and life-support, which must be maintained until the establishment of death. Another theme is that of “soft” patient autonomy, and its (...) role in dealing with the dying in both traditional Jewish law and Israel’s Terminal Patient Law, 2005. Preventing suffering in relation to a dying person, and praying for his or her death are also discussed in the article. (shrink)
Scientists, bioethicists, and policy makers are currently engaged in a contentious debate about the scientific prospects and morality of efforts to increase human longevity. Some demographers and geneticists suggest that there is little reason to think that it will be possible to significantly extend the human lifespan. Other biodemographers and geneticists argue that there might well be increases in both life expectancy and lifespan. Bioethicists and policy makers are currently addressing many of the ethical, social, and economic issues raised by (...) life extension research. However, the emphasis on philosophical argument supporting or condemning efforts to increase human longevity means that much less attention is currently being given to the factors that might play a role in generating interest in efforts to increase human longevity. This analysis considers three factors that might play a role in heightening public interest in efforts to develop biomedical technologies capable of retarding or reversing aging processes. While discussions of life extension research can seem quite futuristic and impractical, there are some powerful existential factors that might well generate considerable public support for life extension strategies if effective biomedical interventions emerge. Rather than providing philosophical justifications supporting or condemning efforts to increase human longevity, this essay seeks to promote a better understanding of the factors generating contemporary interest in prolonging life and postponing death. (shrink)